In a recent overview of research, Dr. Cathy Hamer, policy and communications manager at National Literacy Trust, examined the evidence for the importance of early communication between babies and their parents.
The research overview determined that language development is influenced by the child’s communication environment. Parents give their young child an advantage when they talk, read, and listen with them and respond to their babbles, gestures and words. It was found that babies in the womb hear clearly enough in the last few months of pregnancy to distinguish their mother’s voice and become sensitive to the rhythm of their native language.
A number of factors influence a child’s language development and their performance upon entering school including:
- The frequency with which a child plays with letters/numbers at home
- The frequency with which parents read to their child and visit the library
- The frequency with which parents teach their child songs or rhymes.
There was a strong association between a child’s social background and their readiness for school as measured by their scores on school entry assessments. However, the communication environment is a more accurate predictor of early language than social background.
Therefore, aiming to improve the home learning, and in particular the communication environment, for young children in less advantaged social groups through support for parents is considered an important strategy for addressing social inequalities in educational advancement.
Access the complete study at http://www.literacytrust.org.uk